Here’s a quick test for you. The album is called Music for Suicides; tracks include “I Could Jump Out a Window,” “And The City Shall Burn,” and “Raped in a Basement Apartment.” So what kind of music are we listening to here?
Don’t feel bad. That was clearly my reaction, too. So as I hesitantly hit “play,” I was surprised to not hear a grinding whine of despair-ravaged synth, but the thoughtful, albeit quite sad, piano melody of “Lullaby for Gwynedd.” String sounds moved in beneath the piano and I found I was quite caught in the feel of the thing. I found myself thinking of the dark melodies of Dwight Ashley as Stand Alone Complex (aka Michael Lewis) slowly added more mournful tones to the choir and the thing just got lovelier–in a shadowy, let’s dwell on the past sort of way.
And yet . . .
In the next breath comes a downright funky beat, a cool bass pulse and I’m tapping my foot to “I Spend My Days in a Decaying Orbit” and–hang on, hang on, this is Music for Suicides?
Regardless of what possessed Lewis to come up with the eyebrow-raising CD and track titles, the fact remains that Music for Suicides is a very tasty disc of pieces that fold together a little IDM, a lot of post-rock and a never-too-melancholy sense of pensiveness. From the Depeche-styled swagger of “You Are Beautiful When You Are Useful to Me” and the slow rock of “Don’t Be Gone Long” to the experimental, minimal grimness of “And the City Shall Burn,” where sledgehammer bass chords on the piano reverberate across a dirge-like rhythm, Lewis is willing to take chances. He’s also talented enough to pull them off. The layers here are deep and well managed. Every moment is packed thick with sound. The intention of each track rises immediately to the surface, whether Lewis feels like comforting you (the Art of Noise-ish massage of “I Could Jump Out a Window,” for example) or discomforting you. Again, in his darker moments comparisons could be drawn to Ashley; both artists have an instinctive knowledge that you can go as dark and odd as your soul needs to as long as you feed the listener a strong emotional experience at the same time. Make us want to come with you. This, Lewis does. Well.
I may also have to bestow upon him the championship belt for song titles, since there’s one here called “An Apology is the Last Thing You Need to Hear When You’re Killing Someone.” But I’m telling you–listen to Music for Suicides. The music here speaks for itself, whatever the titles might say. An impressive debut from Stand Alone Complex. I’m already ready for more.
Available at CD Baby.